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Tip #1 – Perceived End Results Cause Impatience!
I often look back on my life and see all of the mistakes that I made from the lack of guidance, myths that were being passed on from mentors and teachers and other things that I had to decipher for myself that caused delays.
One trait that seemed to escape me (especially in youth) was patience. I was very impatient with myself and my personal growth / gain in abilities which therefore caused me to avoid things that would require (perceived) large amounts of time to improve and sent me down the path of seeking short cuts. If I couldn’t do it well quickly, I would attempt other “skills” that seemed to one more naturally. Range was one of those pretty quick growth spurts for me… G’s above high C came fairly quickly but was hell-bent on achieving a double C that was playable at any given time before I worked on any other playing aspects, and THAT alone sent my dream of playing at a high level professionally crashing down to earth!
When I finally had to “give in” (as it were) and start practicing the real meat and potatoes of playing music again, I noticed within a just a few months that my range was improving / stabilizing as well – and I wasn’t even focussed on it anymore.
So this week’s first tip – don’t set limitations, boundaries or time tables on your desired outcome… focus on the small achievements daily in your playing. Whether that be better endurance, faster fingers, better tonguing, finally getting that cool lick you’ve been working on to come out in your soloing, or what ever it may be… CELEBRATE! This really should be a destination-less journey of joy and personal happiness.
Tip #2 – Little Bits Every Day Win The Race!
Let’s face it, cramming for something is never a great idea… whether it be that final exam, audition or your recital, if you don’t “know” the material a few days before hand, cramming isn’t going to polish the turds away!
Learning jazz ideas is the same – you first have to commit the passage, lick or line to memory. This alone can take several days (in all 12 keys) if not several weeks depending on the complexity of said line. Cramming will NOT allow you to play your new line comfortably. Once you have it committed to memory, you need to work it into your improvisation by trying to find suitable situations and play it naturally… this takes more time (as I’m finding out).
Same goes for learning classical solos, difficult passages in band music, etc.
So if you’re struggling with trying to practice something difficult because you believe it’s insurmountable, take one line, one measure, or one beat at a time and work on it in little bits.
As I get older, the things that I know I have to do but am compelled to put off make me realize that they are the first things I should tackle each day. If you develop this habit of charging after that which scares you or makes you sigh and think “UGH,” then you will enhance your playing / daily life because you will be doing more than many…
The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after
time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully,
have been kindness, beauty, and truth
– Albert Einstein 1879-1955, Theoretical Physicist
Have a GREAT week!